Low temperatures don’t always have to mean high purchase costs. Panel heaters are usually a relatively inexpensive option to buy for some basic winter heating during the colder months, with prices starting from around the $50 mark. But panel heaters certainly come with their pros and cons, so read our guide before you head to the store or buy online.
What is a panel heater?
Most panel heaters use convective heat to warm up and circulate air, which rises to fill a room over time. Once the heat starts rising, the panel heater will also begin to move heat around the room to fill any cold spots. Panel heaters can be ideal for well-insulated rooms, such as small to medium sizes spaces. By using a panel heater where there’s good insulation, you can prevent the air from escaping and ensure the room stays warm. These heaters are far less effective for large spaces.
Are panel heaters expensive to run?
Panel heaters are generally not energy-efficient and have higher running costs than other heating appliances since the majority use convection heating and require a long time to warm up. However, some brands are now creating hybrid models which use both convection and radiated heat to provide more effective heating. With that said, panel heaters keep heat and the optimal temperature in the room better than most other heaters out there, without any stop and start. That’s why they’re recommended for those who plan on keeping their heater on for a long period of time. An oil-filled column heater is similar but more energy-efficient.
5 reasons why you should buy a panel heater
Tossing and turning over whether a panel heater is for you? Here are some benefits to consider:
1. It’s compact and saves space
Looking for a heater that can warm up an apartment or small room, without sacrificing space? Panel heaters tend to be slimmer and more stylish compared to other types of heating units.
2. Keeps you consistently warm
While the air conditioner can cause the temperature to fluctuate so much it feels like you’ve experienced both summer and winter in just a single day, many panel heaters come with a thermostat to ensure it continues to run at the set temperature without you having to go back and fiddle with it.
3. Both portable and built-in options available
The majority of panel heaters can be used as a portable heater or installed as a wall-mounted unit, with accessories like feet and brackets included when you purchase the heater.
4. Cheaper than other types of heaters
Panel heaters are fairly inexpensive compared to other types of heaters, with prices starting from around $80 and reaching up to $600 for high-end models.
5. Great to use for longer periods
Since many panel heaters use convection heating, these are generally more cost-effective if you leave the heater on for an extended period of time rather than for short bursts.
Some disadvantages of panel heaters
Here are a couple of downsides to panel heaters:
Slow heat-up time
Good things come to those who wait, which is certainly the case when it comes to panel heaters. Compared to other heaters, such as fan heaters, you will need to wait longer for things to get toasty.
Higher running costs
Panel heaters can be expensive to use for the heat benefit they provide, although slightly more energy-efficient models are starting to pop up on the market from brands like Noirot.
Cheapest panel heaters in Australia
To help you get your home winter-ready, we’ve listed a variety of affordable panel heaters and where you can get them. Here are some brands to check out:
|Arlec 1000W Convection Panel Heater||Bunnings||$49*|
|Omega Altise 1800W Panel Convection Heater||Harvey Norman||$149*|
|De’Longhi Electric Panel Heater||Appliances Online||$159*|
|Kogan 1500W Glass Portable Electric Panel Heater||Kogan||$199*|
|Rinnai 1000W Panel Heater||The Good Guys||$209*|
|Nobo 1.5kW Electric Panel Heater with Timer||Bing Lee||$449*|
*Prices are taken from respective retailers, Appliances Online and Bunnings, correct as of May 2021.
Arlec 1000W Convection Panel Heater — $49 RRP*
Bunnings stocks a few budget-friendly panel heaters, all of which are from Arlec and typically range between $49-$89. This Arlec convection panel heater (PEH131) provides up to 1000W of heating power and is said to be ideal for small rooms no larger than 10m². Similar to the De’Longhi Electric Panel Heater below, this Arlec heater can be used either as a floor unit or mounted to the wall.
But, if you’re planning on buying from Bunnings, keep in mind that certain models might only be available in-store and cannot be purchased online. Some features to expect include:
- Single power setting
- Adjustable thermostat
- 24-hour timer
- Safety overheat cut-out function
- Caster wheels
Omega Altise 1800W Panel Convection Heater — $149 RRP*
Omega Altise is one of the most common brands to pop up when shopping for a budget appliance. This panel convection heater (0APE1800W) is among the cheapest and offers three heat settings, including 750W, 1050W, and 1800W. It measures 8.5cm thick and weighs 7.2kg, and can be installed on a wall or placed on the floor. Castors, wheels and wall brackets are included.
If you’re unsure about purchasing lower-priced models, the Omega Altise heater comes with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty, which is a considerably more generous warranty period compared to some brands. While Harvey Norman currently sells the model in white, you can also find it in black from other retailers such as Appliances Online. Some features to expect include:
- Three heat settings
- Automatic overheat shut-off function
- Safety tip-over switch
- Knob and rotary controls
De’Longhi Electric Panel Heater — $159 RRP*
Looking for a space-saving panel heater, but can’t decide whether to sit it on the floor or mount it to the wall? Measuring 9cm wide, the slim De’Longhi Electric Panel Heater (HSX3324FTS) is one of the cheapest models available and comes with both feet and a wall bracket kit to let you use the heater in a way that suits you. It also includes carry handles for extra portability.
This De’Longhi panel heater has a maximum heating power of 2400W and is ideally suitable for rooms no larger than 60m2. Features include:
- Six power levels
- 24-hour timer
- Anti-frost function
- Safety thermostat
- Rotary switches
Kogan 1500W Glass Portable Electric Panel Heater — $199 RRP*
A slim design and sleek aesthetic are a big part of panel heater charm, and Kogan has clearly put this into practice with the Kogan 1500W Glass Portable Electric Panel Heater. Available in white or black, the unit is made with a tempered glass casing and features an LCD display and touchpad control panel. It’s also said to use an ‘X’ shaped heating element to provide a quick heat-up time and work efficiently.
This Kogan electric heater can be used as a freestanding heater or mounted to the wall. Features include:
- IP24-rated water resistance
- Two adjustable heat settings: 750W and 1500W
- Thermostat control
- Self-resetting thermostat
- 24-hour timer
- Overheating protection
Rinnai 1000W Panel Heater — $209 RRP*
Sometimes the bathroom is the only safe space in the house where we can enjoy some peace and quiet, so it makes sense that brands like Rinnai are recommending models like the Rinnai 1000W Electric Panel Heater (PEPH10PEW) for the loo and other small areas such as bedrooms and ensuites. While the heater does have a water resistance rating of IP24 (which protects it from water spray from any direction), this is only intended to protect the inside of the heater from splashes, and usual caution should be taken.
The Rinnai panel heater has a generous seven-year warranty and can be used either as a freestanding unit or mounted to the wall. Some features include:
- Thermostatic control
- Programmable 24-hour timer with delay timer function
- Digital timer
- Minimal noise
- Overheat protection function
Nobo 1.5kW Electric Panel Heater With Timer — $449 RRP*
For a panel heater so sleek it barely resembles a traditional heater, the Nobo 1.5kW Electric Panel Heater with Timer (NTL4T15-FS40) is a super-slim unit that measures just 5.5cm thick. It can be used as a portable heater or mounted to the wall, preferably in a medium to large-sized space such as bedrooms, bathrooms and living rooms. The brand claims its heater can help improve the air quality with fan-free technology which prevents the appliance from blowing dust and allergens around the room while it operates. The heater is also stated to have an adaptive start feature which allows the heater to learn what time it should begin warming up to ensure the room is at the set temperature by the time you need it.
This Nobo electric panel heater has a limited lifetime warranty and offers:
- IP24 water resistance rating
- Completely silent performance
- Seven-day efficient timer and adaptive start function
- Ultra-accurate thermostat
- Child safe features including a child-lock timer and lower surface temperatures
Are panel heaters worth it?
Panel heaters are seen as a preferable option for those looking to heat up a room for longer periods of time, as opposed to just a couple of hours while watching TV. They’re much better suited to small rooms rather than large and don’t rush home expecting to be warmed up quickly because they generally take far longer to heat up than other types of heaters.
You can find a wide range of models priced between $80 and $600, although there are plenty of options to choose from for less than $200. The main downside is that these are typically less energy-efficient and more expensive to run compared to other types of heaters.
While panel heaters do have a few similarities to column heaters, it’s worth noting that panel heaters are designed to be more slim, stylish and feature-packed.
Picture credits: Mariia Boiko, Shutterstock.com/Erik Svoboda, Shutterstock.com.